461 Comments

Excellent analysis, particularly the differentiation of the varieties of threat - Trump, deSantis, Abbott.

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I agree. Heather's analysis helps us more clearly recognize the toxic threat of "soft fascism" in the various exploitative power moves of Trump, DeSantis, and Abbott--and the critical necessity of stepping up our work on behalf of democracy, justice, and the rule of law.

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Soft fascism is still fascism

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Soft fascism with Tucker Carlson as head cheerleader is "just" plain old fascism.

There is no such thing as a "soft" fistfight.

Just a fistfight.

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I tend to agree that "soft fascism" is still full on fascism but it is a way to hide that it is fascism. It plays right into the Evangelical wanting to control people and pull in the cash. I grew up in that Evangelical world and yesterday heard something I hadn't heard since my youth. MTGreene saying that the Catholics were controlled by Satan because they wanted to help the poor, black and brown people.

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This is NEW! Throwing Catholics under the bus. MTGreene is making new enemies everyday. She should perhaps take up some "Marshall" arts for her own safety.

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She really needs to sprout some toes so she can get her feet on the ground.

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I hope the Catholics on the Supreme Court were listening.

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This isn’t new—it was a common thread in the 1960 election; I had Baptist neighbors who said that Catholics weren’t real Christians, but cultists worshiping the Pope.

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Time to bring in the Jewish space lasers to cut down Satan.

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I have also heard from their ilk that “the Navaho Nation suffers from poverty and illness because they have a matriarchal society”. P.S. That was part of a “sermon” in New Mexico back in the 1970s.

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Really...they suffer because they are marginalized Native Americans made that way by patriarchal whites. I had some friends who were educators who spent time many many years ago among the Navaho and they had a vastly different opinion.

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Gangrene hasn't a clue about the teaching of Jesus. The Catholic Church is remiss in many ways, but if they are helping the marginalized, that is not one of them. I thought this was ghastly on the part of Gangrene and shows that she hasn't a clue about the teachings of Jesus. But then I had a person yesterday post that somehow Bernie and Jesus are the same. Yes, we did have a conversation about that.

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Does Jesus like mittens?

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Here's "Gang-Greene's" interview where she displays her total ignorance of Christianity. I'd advise not reading it with anything in your stomach as it's pretty nauseating. She--and a lot of other people who call themselves "Christian"--seems to have conveniently forgotten Jesus' words from Matthew Chapter 25:

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"

There's a LOT more where that came from, Marjorie, honey...

https://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/marjorie-taylor-greene-says-christians-helping-resettle-undocumented-immigrants-and-refugees-are-controlled-by-the-devil/

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Pretty amazing how these people can miss the main message.

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Geez, she missed the all Catholic conservative justices sponsored by a movement meant to keep women and big money in their "proper places."

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Not the first fascist to “bend” the language to attain their goals.

“Language of the third Reich” by Viktor Klemperer

Manipulation via Language and lies are the first tools of fascists.

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"Politics and the English Language", George Orwell (prelude to "1984").

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Part of this attack on Catholics might also be an attempt to disavow Joe Biden’s deeply held religious beliefs.

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Attack on Catholics could backfire ? 6 of SCOTUS and DeSantis are Catholic..

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Yes, along the lines of "Catholics" aren't real Christians. This divisive group will say absolutely anything that is hateful and that can possibly stir up more hatred. They will not succeed.

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In a very real sense, we are living the dystopian vision of the "Hunger Games," with Carlson as the Stanley Tucci character. Or Joseph Goebbels, take your pick.

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Hi, Mike. Thanks for this comment about "soft fascism." I agree there's no such animal. But all those particulars aside, what strikes me as more than a little odd is that Mr. Carlson is even a subject for discussion. We now almost take for granted that a television news reporter/celebrity has fully and directly participated (even advising) in the major decisions of our government. It isn't even about the fact that Carlson is a special kind of awful. Any fool can see that and there's not much to say about it. But the evidence says that the man actually conferred with TFG during the making of serious decisions. And, yes, Trump was his own kind of monster, an exception to every rule, but the phenomenon itself, separate from the specific a**holes involved, does kind of blow my mind.

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A friend of mine came up with the term, Christofascism which I fear is more apt.

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Ha! Ha! Back in the 1980s I ran across the term “Shiite Christians”. I repeat it not to offend, but to inform. I’m sure that the writer of “The Handmaid’s Tale” does it much more eloquently.

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100%. Same as 1920’s Germany. Soft Fascism to gain power will cement itself once it has power. The description of cycles here in America did have a degree of luck, the rule of law, and a depressions so bad, it could have happened here. I am most concerned about media moguls (oligarchs really)who fearing regulation go with the hard right. But once a fascists gains power from that relationship, he won’t want to have critics, that could threaten his sustained power, will nationalize the media, as happened in Hungry, which followed Russia’s playbook to cement one party rule.

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Boiling the fat frog slowly.

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It looks to me like the oligarchy is the hard right and owns the media.

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I’ve been thinking, what’s stopping Elon from buying one of the networks too? Could he buy FB? Or start his own?These are questions that the FCC and Congress should consider before the next recession as downturns always result in consolidation of industries.

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Shhhhhh…don’t give him any ideas!!

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The rush for power in the new frontier of internet.

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Menthol Light still causes cancer and high death rates among Black smokers, the primary target of the industry marketed for it Kool taste. Palatable is soft. Only gonna hurt the other guy.

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I’ll agree with “soft” for now. That’s the time to rip the masks off the beliefs of many that this is “ok”. Only goal of Desantis is bully his way through in 2022 and then ride down the tarnished escalator in 2024 to adoring masses of the white minority.

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Yes, "soft" in sense that he cloaks his actions in "rights" language--eg, the "don't say gay" bill in parental rights.

You are so right, his only goal is himself--something he shares with Trump--though in this case it is all about his political aspirations. That goal was made even more transparent by the Disney debacle-- purely punitive revenge legislation!! I hope the bond debt issue boomerangs him!!

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That is my hope also....that the cost to Florida will turn enough people against him.

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My hope is that the cost to Florida will destroy their state economy. The first thing they'll do is come begging the federal government and the courts for relief from the self-inflicted wounds. I think what needs to happen is for every Democrat to explain, in detail, exactly how Florida's governor and legislature made a bunch of disastrous decisions, before addressing any issue of how to fix it.

Maybe if the state goes into receivership, DeSantis and the others can be flushed away.

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Yes many of us who live here in Florida are hoping that we can oust DeSantis from the governorship and that he will disappear. Reality says this is unlikely to happen - new gerrymandering here and DeSantis' new Election force (enforcers of stopping people from voting - including not allowing people to hand out water to those waiting in line to vote). He is a very dangerous man and young!

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I think Mickey will be DeSantis undoing. He says Disney will pick up the multi-billion tab but with 80000 jobs on the line-, it's not much of a campaign slogan.

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Apr 30, 2022·edited Apr 30, 2022

Funny how a Disney character will now do more for democracy than a real gov!

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DeSantis with some children of color in the background.

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For “appearances” only.

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Apr 29, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022

Will DeSantis continue to encourage moves to the “least affordable state” ?

“Freedom” is free…only to those who can afford it.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/florida-least-affordable-state-us-miami-tampa-orlando-naples/

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Who would Ron “anoint” to the Supreme Court? Hmmmmm

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Satan

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Satan is already there so who next?

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Pam Biondi?

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Yuck. Erghhh

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I would call it more "serpentine" (or insidious) than "soft"

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Yes, the snakes in the grass and insidious is a good word.

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Snakes multiply very rapidly in the Florida climate!!

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You didn't mention the ex-gov DIMWIT Lepage that's running for governor again in Maine- as big a danger as Abbott and DeSantis. They're just fascists. Lepage is all of that and stupid to boot.

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Like a three-tined fork sticking itself into democracy to see if it’s done.

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Excellent metaphor of where we are in our history, Ally.

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Gives a whole new meaning to “Butterball Turkey”.

Morning dear Ally. Get people and pets moved cross country successfully?

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Just took possession of the house. Movers to arrive in an hour.

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More like the pitchfork held by the devil in Christian iconography.

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Apr 29, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022

Absolutely, TC!

The penny dropped quite brilliantly, Heather! I can only hope that this triple pronged fork will weaken the GOP's hold in the long run.

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But isn’t there another step? The consolidation of power into the hands of the Leader and his cronies, and the consequent undermining of law, threatens those rich businesspeople who depend on a functioning legal system to prosper. Those were the people who, with great reluctance, came to understand that the reforms of the 1930s were actually good for everyone (except the outright racists and fascists masquerading as anti-Communists of the John Birch type). The result—aided by American economic dominance—was the unity of the 1950s that saw the greatest growth in our history. Aren’t we ready for another time when business leaders recognize that their interests lie not with the fascists, toadies and cronies, but with those who support democracy, even if that means that those interests will have to compete with those of the lesser folk? In other words, isn’t the time ripe for a different approach to government? Wait, I have an idea: We could call that different kind of governing a New Deal!

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I just finished reading The Gardens of Democracy by Eric Hanauer. (I think someone on here recommend it.) I love the metaphor of "tending to democracy." They call for a New Enlightenment.

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Hi, Jon, I think you're onto something when you talk about a different approach and a "new" New Deal. When I look at what's happening--what has been happening for a good while now, way before TFG--I see a lot of complete deconstruction and total razing of things we thought were stable. We may not have much choice about starting over and creating something new because it looks to me like we might not have much left when the smoke clears. The hope is that we'll have a planet that can sustain us, a few good souls with skills and determination, and possibly we could put in for a few dinosaurs.

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Excellent analysis, indeed! Explains how exploitation of racism endemic in the white electorate has enabled the wealthy to get their way. This cycle started in earnest in 1968 when Nixon realized that Wallace’s assertion that racist dog whistles work as well in the North as in the South. There is now a small crack that might be exploited: some Liberty “University” people have admitted that the evangelical movement is grounded in racism, and instead of that being a positive attribute, they view it as negative. If that crack can peel off, say, 25% of evangelical votes, Republicans won’t be able to win statewide elections.

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I like your serene optimism. :-)

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It’s a longterm project, I’m afraid, and US democracy may dissolve in the interim. Still, a small crack is better than no crack, which us what we’ve had since 1968.

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I promise not to make a practice of this.

There are what 3, 4, 5 and more stories within THIS DAY IN HISTORY: APRIL 29, 1945? One of them is about how the liberation of Jews 77 years ago speaks to what is happening in Ukraine, the USA and elsewhere on April 29, 2022. TC, thank you more than I can say.

תודה לך יותר ממה שאנ

יכול

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It always does, doesn't it?

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Apr 29, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022

Right on the penny….I mean money.

A necesssry analysis if the collective one is to be clear about resistance.

United, TC. 🗽

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All of us, this time. Or so I pray. ❤️🕊🙏🏻

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Apr 29, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022

The penny dropped for me also with this letter. I think we have been rather confused about all that is happening and this sure clarifies. What is the best strategy for fighting back against all three? Personally I don't believe that history loops, but history does teach.

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To these eyes and ears History has “cycles”, the patterns become clearer after, hard to see them “during” or while it’s happening. We have to zoom out to see them after the fact.

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What you are describing is the politics of eternity isn't it? That is a trap.

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Maybe we need both. I always think about the carpet Obama had in the Oval Office with the quote from ML King that the arc of history bends always toward justice. The politics of eternity is a fine thing, but those of us slogging through this day in this madness, can only try to take a clear-eyed look at what's in front of us and get out there and do just one thing to have an impact on reality. The arc of history, the cycles of history, may or may not come full circle; the universe might well right itself eventually; the harmony of the spheres could very well be restored. But in the meantime I can do my best to be a force for good. And, honestly, the way things look today, I'm not optimistic that it will make any difference. I have to do it anyway.

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I think the politics of eternity and the politics of inevitability are pitfalls.

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Kathy, we hope to goodness that it does, but what to do with a generation and more of people who think history is either irrelevant or dangerous?

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History teaches only if there’s a willing student.

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Sarah, as a forty year veteran of the classroom, I absolutely agree. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Right now, those of us who...I almost typed "those of us who are ready," but I don't think that's quite right. Perhaps those of us who think we are ready. Today is a day for the battle. Tomorrow--or maybe another generation's tomorrow--will make today's lessons clear. Today there is, as Biden said early on, a war for the soul of America. I don't have any doubts about the rights and the wrongs in this situation--at home and abroad. In my ancient playbook, there really are some absolutes. But I don't think I can see, or am even ready to see, whatever the larger lessons here are. I hope they don't include the one lesson it's always too late to learn--that it is not possible to survive the way we're going.

I hope this isn't as muddled as I think.

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For an even deeper analysis along these lines, read "Right Across the World" by John Feffer.

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See also this Rachel Maddow interview, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eidNzvrukBg

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It seems we are on an inexorable path to autocracy driven by the wealthy in their buried fear of the issue of climate change, and the collapse of their good life. That it’s an insurmountable problem, and it would inflict unacceptable changes to their lifestyles to fix it, and so they’re going to just get as much out of their lives now while they can.

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To offer a more ecological view of it, I think that the chances of a person having living descendants in the year 2122 will depend in large measure on that person's current wealth and their ability to keep it. So why should they let some government take it away? As a survival strategy it has an entirely consistent logic.

The short-term thinking isn't even necessarily a flaw, because concentrating sole on short-term gains can lead, additively, to long-term gains. If that leads to a gradual diminishment of available rewards, so what? A pot of gold is as good as a sack of moldy potatoes if nobody else has either.

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This is the politics of inevitability.

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Chilling, Ron

Thanks.

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Chilling

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I too agree. And it is written with such clarity!

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I continue to have a problem with the identification "Christian". I recognize that Puritans called themselves Christians eventhough they persecuted their own members who lived more independently and Oakers with a different view of Christianity. Even to the point of killing them. I recognize that Confederates called themselves Christians eventhough they promoted slavery and killed slaves, abolitionists and Union soldiers to preserve slavery and their oligarchy. During Jim Crow, they burned crosses and killed those who threatened their oppressive rule. And then today Abbott, Desantis and many Republicans call themselves Christians while they do many unchristian things to other people. When are real Christians going to take the Christian identification away from these Philistines? Real Christians are people of mercy and a blessing for all.

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@David Souers, I grew up Catholic. I recall only one story where Jesus resorted to violence. When he saw the money changers and vendors selling doves in the temple of Jerusalem, he overturned their tables and said, "my house will be a house of prayer and you have made it a den of thieves. Make not my Father's house a house of merchandise." If Christians want to be Christlike, THIS is the time to start overturning tables. That is the necessary path back to mercy and blessings for all.

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Jesus was anti corruption during Empire of Rome. I think something similar has happened in Western Democracies since 2000. Loose money laundering laws has brought Putin’s billions into western democracy ( our Temple).

Mistakenly we thought we could bring democracy to a dictatorship, but the opposite has happened. We didn’t just import stolen foreign capital from Russia, we also imported/ opened Pandora’s box of corruption. It is so clear to me now. How do I explain it better?

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But the megachurches preach prosperity as a right and one blessed by Jesus. A few years ago, I remember seeing a Hummer in a parking lot. Its personalized bumper sticker read: If Jesus we're alive, he'd be driving a car like this.

So, WWJD? The Tucker Carlsons of the world say he'd be a rich autocrat pushing illiberalism.

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This reminds me of the argument Christians made following 9/11 against followers of Islam not calling out their extremists. So now it’s time for Christian’s to answer that same question for themselves. The ones I know are sitting back from that fault line in their circle of influence. Why? Maybe because it fractures families, friendships, neighborhoods, communities and churches. We are all fearless in our delegation to others to face the rage. But when we have to do it ourselves? That takes much, much more courage and wisdom and diplomacy than many of us possess.

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I am a mentor to pastors who are committed to improving their preaching. I hear every day how they struggle to preach the gospel of equality and justice in a cultural climate that includes people like those who supported the Roman government's first century oppression of the poor and who called for Jesus' execution because he was a threat to their power. The question is always how to get the message across, how to change hearts. In addition to the thousands of good-hearted preachers in local churches everywhere who do not agree with so-called "Christian" nationalism, voices like those of Jim Wallis of Sojourners, people who write for Christian Century, the Poor People's Campaign started by MLKing and now led by the powerful Rev. William Barber II, and others do counter the prevailing madness. What motivates hard work and courage of this sort is deep conviction that, for many people in and out of the limelight, is based in their faith. Who's to say it hasn't put something of a brake on the march toward autocracy? Not that we can stop worrying and working. Pastors have been fired in our time for even mentioning Black Lives Matter from the pulpit or doing their job to keep the people they serve save from the corona virus by insisting on masks. They need our gratitude and prayers.

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I sent your comment to my stepson, who is a pastor in a small area near Sacramento; these are issues he struggles with in the community too. The few services we have attended are full of true love for all people, and to live as Christ did. Thank you for the work you do

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Thank you for reminding us of this.

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Excellent point, Chris, the great appeal of being one of the chosen ones. Advertising “a one-time special offer only for discerning customers like you, good for eternity.“

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How do you, Chris, know that the preachers I refer to are ignoring a huge, open, understanding of how the divine speaks to the world. Please don't assumer there is a closed door, a narrow way. Be careful of interpreting the Bible in a limited lens, the way the "Christian" nationalists interpret scripture. That is not the only window. I hope you can hear someone (listen to The Rev. William Barber II, for example) who hears a different voice from God than the voice that the "Christian" nationalists say they hear.

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" It’s difficult to write a sermon on a gospel of equality and justice when your assumption is that God has revealed Himself once and for all time through only one scripture to only one tribe."

Is it not the case that there are thee monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all of whom have one scripture? Why do you single out Christianity for attack?

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I see one major difference between the right wing's criticism of Muslims for not reeling in extremists after 9/11 and their reluctance to call out extremists in their own ranks today. Muslims, especially women, risked sever punishment/death for speaking out. The evangelist today would most likely face sever shunning. It does take 'more courage, and wisdom and diplomacy."

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deletedApr 29, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022
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Or The Family, the wickedly rich and powerful "Christian" group that organizes The Prayer Breakfast to wangle Presidents and Congresspeople into their dark moneyed fold.

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I gave up trying to figure out “real Christians” in 2006, thanks to Karl Rove

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“Jesus, Save me from your Followers”?

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Yes, even the different evangelical churches are now very different from one another. We have neighborhood churches in predominantly black populations who preach the teaching of Christ from a love and support standpoint. We have megachurches in white areas that will give forgiveness and teach patriarchal, submissive and such in exchange for exorbitant tithing. The more money you give, the more you are attended to. The giving back to the needy is also vastly different with these churches. One helps all who come to them, and other turns face need so they can buy jets and huge homes and fancy cars.

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"Real Christians are people of mercy and a blessing for all."

Close enough to my own interpretation to pass!

:-)

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Unfortunately, no "real Christians" are in power.

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Biden is a “real Christian.”

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I get what you're saying, but he's not nearly progressive enough for me.

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I understand reaching for the stars, I really do. But we risk letting the perfect become the enemy of the good. It’s so easy to forget the catastrophic risk of a second Trump presidency, when Biden seemed (at least to me) the only one who could beat him. Biden’s presidency has been the most progressive of my lifetime, and would be even more so with a larger congressional majority. That’s the conflict between idealism and pragmatism we all face.

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Ageed. Thank you.

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You’re right and this is what tends to get Democrats in trouble. We as a party seem to have a terrible time coming to consensus or it appears so at least. We are too nice sometimes. We seem to hate to play hardball. After all these years Democrats still think republicans give a hoot about this country but I think it’s obvious to most of us that they just don’t. This nihilism has been a real eye-opener for many but I fear it’s not going to be enough to overcome the fools and tools that have been emplaced in positions of power to truly steal an election from the voters, and sooner than we may want to admit. Then what?

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President Biden is not a King. What does not progressive enough even mean? He'll go down in history as the GOAT IMHO.

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They don't speak up. Some may foolishly fall for anyone who claims to be Christian. But there must be enough out there to make a difference. Of course they might then be called "CINOs" by the real CINOs.

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Apr 29, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022

"The Grand Inquisitor" section of "The Brothers Karamazov" explains that kind of so-called "Christianity" pretty well. It's all about holding onto power. But then, isn't everything? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om6HcUUa8DI

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Se, Luis Bunuel's "The Milky Way", a cinematic 'pilgrimage' from Paris to Spain on Christian heresy. Probably on Tubi.

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I’m sorry but until the “real” Christian’s band together and publicly fight back to save our Democracy they remain will remain part of the problem. Importantly, it’s not just Christians. It’s the entire GOP and the Dems. Did anyone notice except for the Jan 6th Commission, there is no more talk about what the party in control of power is going to do to shore up our Democracy.

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What?

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???

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Real Christians are few and far between the Philistines it seems.

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Agreed, name them whatever you wish, but they are the antithesis of the Jewish Jesus of Nazareth

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“People of mercy” are decent human beings. Racists aren’t. Religious claims of people in either group don’t affect their status in the decency dimension.

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Can you define the word Christian for me, as you see it?

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I think the definition of Christian being mangled started a long long time ago. That said, I don’t belong to a club nor do I define anyone by their club name. It’s the person that matters, not what they label themselves.

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Bravo, Amen, Hallelujah!

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I was about to disagree, until you mentioned select passages from the Sermon on the Mount and other teachings. The actual teachings attributed to Jesus about how to live one’s life do not match what the Church has been dwelling on over the centuries. They especially do not match today’s “Christian” values as pushed by mega-church pastors and televangelists hucksters, who dwell on the Old Testament and the book of Revelations. The Gospels are apparently too politically progressive for them.

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Thanks for saying that. You saved me the trouble.

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I get afraid when I read a correct analysis of Christianity or any sect like this, Chris.

But I’m not scared. First and foremost, I always believe Light will prevail in the battle for truth and goodness.

Salud, Chris. 🗽

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It won’t prevail by itself, and in many eras, the light failed for many consecutive centuries. That’s why the call it the Dark Ages, for example. Christianity was then at the top of its game in Europe, but the lives of almost all people were nasty, brutish, and short.

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Apr 29, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022

Pretty strong points Chris. Equally strong, I believe, in a world that is increasingly finite as humanity's increasing consumption (and contamination) of the planet's resources becomes more acute, science must be front and center in the creation of our governments' policies. The insistence of organized religion (certainly Christianity) of relying on faith and the grace of god to deliver us (as opposed to rational thought capable of changing as our understanding of reality evolves) is proving to be a big roadblock to so many things that must get done and done swiftly. It also is proving to widen the huge gap in this country between left and right. Combine that mentality with the greed and hypocrisy on display from so many in the Christian right, and you get something more akin to Gilead than Toronto (those who watched Handmaid's Tale will get this).

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"God made man sufficient to have stood but free to fall. . . ." John Milton. I feel like we're currently in freefall.

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Jay, I agree “science must be front and center in the creation of our governments’ policies” but look how quickly the “Right” demonized Dr. Fauci and the CDC to the point that the indoctrinated base refused to follow safety guidelines!

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I have thought about the COVID deniers and freedumbs" armies a lot. I feel that if DJT had not been president, we would not have had the significant and sudden rise to fight over safety policies and vaccinations. He instilled in his base (which in reality was around 40 some percent) the desire to believe all his gaslighting and lies and science denial without question. Add to that his underlying aggression communications, and it was a formula for craziness and chaos.

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It is not clear that the FDA or the CDC followed their own safety guidelines! https://www.wibc.com/blogs/tony-katz/only-half-cdc-employees-have-been-vaccinated-but-still-want-you-vaccinated/

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That article is from May 2021 when vaccines were not so available. Probably different now.

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A source for that, if you have one?

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Thank you for your thoughtful post Chris that hit me like a gut punch. I am constantly aware of the patriarchy of Christian religions having spent my first 9 yrs of education in a Catholic school. But your words - the context and framing of this situation- is absolutely frightening!! It’s frightening bc I know ur words are true. My inner knowing is constantly whispering the dangers of the religious war the Christians are/want to wage, but before I would just dismiss the whispers as just my crazy. Now that someone who i dont know has articulated my thoughts- ….. I never thought I would see this in my lifetime esp bec i was born in the early free loving Vatican 2 60’s. I fear for my kids! Thank God I don’t have grandchildren!

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Hard to read this so late at night, but impressive puzzle, making a picture that’s not fun to look at. Thank heavens you have the chops to see/read/work your way through what appears in my reading here, to be ‘correct’ and very troubling for our teetering democracy.

Keep working all the pieces and letting us in on your view. Thank you Heather Cox Richardson. I never understood the value of academic study of history until a friend introduced me to your Letters. Now I feel relieved to read/think about how so many complex pieces create huge understandable pictures of our actual life experience.

Be well dear guide to reality.

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Carol O, I'll second all of that and add that without Dr. Richardson's incisive analysis, the great insights posted in these readers' comments wouldn't likely have sprung up in one place. What a great readership gathered here, and what a fine catalyst is HCR. Thank you all.

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Well said.

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Apr 29, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022

I think that too many Americans don't actually know what democracy is and equate it with American capitalism which has been screwing them for decades. They don't care. They're exhausted trying to make a living. They're distrustful of anyone who is in the government. They see ¨the haves¨ in reality television shows and have anger. Many have college degrees and can't get a decent job. Others are in fields that are becoming or have become obsolete. Then there are the religious who have resented for years those who are liberal and believe in Roe v Wade. Throw in the gun goons, and.....

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And we got here, at least in part, because Reagan gutted education (he had wanted to dissolve the Dept of Education altogether), and local school districts across the nation removed or limited civics class in high schools. So many of our current troubles can be traced to the Reagan Revolution.

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He also ended the Fairness Doctrine- why such stupidity is on news stations! No accident.

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Reagan destroyed America. It's certainly a very long list.

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I think you are correct Holly. I arrived as a freshman at UCLA in 1966 when tution was about $69 per quarter. I was somewhat stunned to arrive at the Campus to find students, TA 's, post- grads & Professors in an uproar over then-Governor Reagan's overt attack on Clark Kerr, the head of the quality, low cost, "UC" university system. Tuition more than tripled in my undergraduate years & the demographics of the students changed dramatically. Fortunately, one of my Poly Sci Profs spent an entire lecture on Marbury vs. Madison & I started to learn what "due process" & fundamental fairness meant on the streets and in the real world. Still learning.

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I'd like to see the Professor give a lecture on the Reagan administration and the erosion of the middle class and the policies that got us here today.

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Oh boy…I too started college in 1966 (Sac State) and my sister was finishing up at Cal…..I remember the uproar in the university system against Reagan, free speech movement, etc. Our parents were appalled!

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And Reagan’s mantra “Government IS the Problem”

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Apr 29, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022

"Throw in the gun goons, and....." you have Amurca!!

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Apr 29, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022

Geez Mike I’m gonna level with you because I like you. Normally in argument I would set up my kill zone and then flank you into it. Not here. Not in these trying circumstances. With one sentence you have alienated such an incredible number of American voters that for the two outright converts the damage far exceeds the gain. Differentiating gun “goons” from gun owners might be a more ameliorating progression. I’m not going to enter an argument for or against gun ownership except to say vive le Ukrainians. The point I make is the generalization that currently alienates broad segments of public opinion. This is a huge divide for us and succeeds with polarization. Now you have committed people to being stupid. Crap, they are probably not gonna saddle up and ride with you into the future, even though they realize as you do that guns are extremely dangerous. Hell, why don’t we wait at the polls and just slap their faces.

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Apr 29, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022

Pat, no offense intended, however, I understand that it is the effect that matters so, my apology.

I was just attempting to be funny.

By quoting "gun goons" I assume that means the subset of individuals who want to walk around the town square with an AK-47 in states where, unbelievably, that is totally legal to do.

There are not many places on earth where you can find white men walking around in public with military weaponry and declaring that is a right they need.

To be honest, I never understood why white folks are so very afraid that they need military arsenals in their homes to fend off...what? Canada?? Mexico?? Blacks??

Gun goons and America DO seem to go together, and, that honest truth should not offend anyone.

NOBODY whould be offended by the truth. Ever. Otherwise, we are ALL just hiding under a fantasy rock.

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Personally Mike I’m a Big coward. I avoid getting too coy with many “subsets”. Many have been wronged beyond my comprehension. Religion, sexual bias, race, ethnicity, political polarization to give you an idea of what sensitivities lie in ambush. Hilarity can ruin your day when you miss your target. I know this from experience. I personally have been stabbed on 4 different occasions so I fully realize there are times to cut and times to run. The polarization of gun owners under the “goon” complex alienates a very large segment of people who would otherwise be politically aligned.

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Good thoughts Pat. I will think about your input. Thank you.

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I too get into trouble when I have the need to mansplain ... and try to do it.

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Pat I get what you’re trying to say, but as a gun owner I know the difference between owners and goons. I’m not carrying in Walmart. The idea that, in this case, we should be respectful of the “feelings” of said goons reads as capitulation to tyrants to me. Appeasement has brought us to war often enough.

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Apr 29, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022

I’m saying don’t out of hand diss the gun owner electorate. As far as goons go…have right at em. Appeasement no! No! No! Tactics are necessary complications.

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As a gun owner also, I agree.

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Exactamente, Pat.

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Your first sentence hits the mark!! Democracy needs to be unfettered and capitalism reined in!!

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And the expected Rapture……..

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Governor Abbott and the Texas Republican majority legislators were being much more than sly with S.B. 8, the "heartless" anti-abortion law. It was a blatant raise your middle finger challenge to the validity of the US Constitution over state authority. It is also a very broad method, using vigilantes to enforce these unconstitutional laws, which can be used for almost anything. California is working on one for gun control by going around the Second Amendment. Even worse is that the current Supreme Court is letting the Texas law go into effect anticipating future precedent that they are about to eviscerate Roe v. Wade. It all stinks. Texas is now a minority white state by population and an autocracy.

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“Texas is now a minority white state by population and an autocracy.”

Yet Abbott has been elected twice and is running for a third term.

Someone obviously likes the job he’s doing.

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Certainly not Stacey Abrams. Support her campaign.

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I am puzzled by how to allocate our modest donation budget. Move On, Act Blue or individual candidates we admire. Grateful for guidance.

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I go, Frank, to the candidate's websites and contribute to them directly, Beto, Abrams, Mallory, Warnock, Val Demmings, etc. Also Voting Rights organizations like Common Cause, or All on the Line working to stop gerrymandering, and many others.

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smv1540. Thank you. Very helpful.

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Apr 29, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022

We have a good chance in Michigan to overturn a House seat stolen by Big Oil to keep Enbridge's line 5 pumping crude through rusting pipes under Lake Michigan. Please help us send Republican Seditionist Rep. Jack Bergman back to Loisiana where he actually still lives.

$upport Democrat Dr. Bob Lorinser for Congress!

Dr. Bob worked for the National Public Health Service on the Navaho Reservation in northwest New Mexico for 3 years. Then was a family physician for 25 years in Marquette, then worked for 11 years as a diplomat for the U.S. State Department in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries. Dr. Bob can help heal our democracy!

https://www.votedrbob.com/

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I support well-vetted local organizations that work on voter registration and getting out the vote in winnable districts. The new CA22 congressional district is one such place, and there are three other congressional districts near it that are also winnable in November. McCarthy’s district, also nearby, is not winnable (by Dems), so not an effective place to invest. Picking your spots and figuring out what organizations can be effective requires careful attention.

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Abbott is actually competing with deSantis for a presidential run in 2024. Right Beto O'Rourke is tied with Abbott in the polls. His stunt on the border hopefully cost him votes.

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Nope, the districts have been gerrymandered to dilute all votes except white ones. No voter fraud, just election fraud.

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But remember the voting restrictions in Texas now.

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Them with the gold makes the rules, or, them with the guns now. (Or cars. In FL one can legally drive through street protests) Yeah, this labor is hard.

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Apr 29, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022

Perhaps it is time to turn over that wheelchair that Abbott hides behind?? Maybe time to start making fun of him for not walking "like a man".

Dems need to learn a little bit O' East Texas talk honestly.

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Mike, as snotty as I can be, I would never, ever advocate making fun of someone who is differently abled or impaired. Remember Trump mocking journalist Serge Kovaleski who suffers from arthrogryposis? Yeah, me too. Do you really find that type of bullying acceptable?

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Daria. I guess I was thinking of how folks loved it whenever Trump made fun of anyone.

But. I agree with you.

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Another attempt at humor not hitting the mark? I don't even try.

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I want to highlight this comment because it addresses something that I think should be high on everyone's list of concerns: this new breed of laws the extremists are experimenting with, that uses the public as enforcers. In the Texas case they are actually paid bounty hunters: report a woman getting an abortion and anyone who helped her do so, and you get $10,000. This perversion of our legal system is starting to go viral.

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It's not reporting the woman seeking or getting an abortion; the law authorizes private individuals to sue each individual involved in an abortion - pregnant woman excepted but including doctors, nurses, even (IIRC) anyone who helps a pregnant woman travel to get an abortion. The law authorizes $10,000 for each person sued. Not sure what is required as evidence. And *anyone*, not limited to Texas residents, can sue. Of course, there *is* the question of HIPAA....

"SB8 technically isn’t enforced by the state; instead any individual can sue a provider or anyone helping someone seek an abortion for $10,000 if they suspect SB8 has been violated. The private legal actions effectively evade constitutional rule and go around Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court case that ruled against state interference in abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. Because SB8 is the first bill to have this type of enforcement, Texas is the first state to actually enforce such a restrictive abortion ban. Additionally, plaintiffs can win $10,000 and get their legal fees reimbursed, but defendants, anyone accused of helping someone get an abortion after 6 weeks, are not afforded the same rights. This allows for anti-abortion advocates to potentially sue abortion providers out of business and largely acts as an intimidation tactic, preventing people from contacting abortion providers and organizations out of fear of legal retaliation." https://sites.utexas.edu/thechattygal/what-sb-8-means-for-texans/

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(Sweden)

Sad to see Orban's Hungary is not more effectively opposed by the EU, now that he has such a follower; but maybe EU is just moving slow. Poland is scared enough to be handed back to Russia and may be turning back to democracy by itself, I think.

How is it that Tucker Carlson is called a 'personality'? In my understanding of the word his submissive propaganda is devoid of everything associated with a personality.

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Thank you, Olof, for drawing attention to this priority for the EU and for Europeans.

What HCR has written today must be brought to the attention of the EU authorities and European governments.

How curious that Orban should be imposing on his country what Erdogan has imposed on Turkey: a Turkish solution probably inferior to that imposed on the Magyar people when Hungary was part of the Ottoman Empire.

But... home-grown and pseudo-Christian... It's all right to be a "dhimmi" to your very own lord and master's very personalized cult (anti-Semitic into the bargain, which the Ottomans were not...).

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Thank you, Peter, for bringing more history into the point. I am presently reading The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder, where he is pointing out that many European countries have taken on a false narrative of national states, when they are really post colonial. I become ever more convinced that true history writing is what can really save us. I talked to a friend, professor of history, about having a common history book for all European countries. He found out there had been such a project, and there existed such a book intended for elementary school; not one country was using it! Moreover he found out there was an institute in Germany, since 1918, with the same purpose, and very little outcome in national curricula.

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I found Snyder's recently released audio book On Tyranny with enhanced comment on current European, Russian, and US politics an excellent analysis of democracy and fascism.

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The EU is aware the Hungary is leaning to the right, and that is why they want to limit him financially. There is not much they can do right now. I think Polands elections, if Poland goes in a different direction, might give them more leverage. Here is some analysis of that relationship.

https://theconversation.com/could-the-european-union-kick-out-hungary-165029

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60978909

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/03/world/europe/hungary-european-union.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/24/world/europe/hungary-poland-eu.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article

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Indeed difficult situation, and hard to take action. Splitting EU is on the Putin wish list. Being clear on democratic election procedures and independent system of justice is absolutely vital in any case. Right backward leaning, not worth being called conservative, minorities are also growing in many European countries, and cannot be ignored. As Sweden is a net payer in the EU I am happy if Hungary at least would get less subsidies.

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Thank you for providing these links! Hope to get to them later today

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All historians, pessimists and optimists need to listen to this talk by Dr. Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, which blew my mind! Dr. Seligman talks about agency. Agency in psychological terms is a mindset that consists of efficacy, optimism, and imagination. When cultures and epochs believe in individual agency, progress occurs. When they do not, stagnation occurs. It is amazing to map historical periods by the individual and collective agency of each period. This made me look at history in a totally new way. Dr. Seligman believes we are about to enter an age of positive agency spurring tremendous progress!

https://www.media.mit.edu/events/agency-and-progress-efficacy-optimism-imagination/

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Hi Cathy, I would think that Seligman's very interesting thoughts stemming from his work on positive psychology should be placed squarely beside those of political philosophers and researchers looking at the "Individual rights vs Collective rights" polarity and the thought that society is best served when there is a balance between the two....not necessarily of course equality but avoidance of the extremes of both....which can lead to the very tyranny that we all seek to avoid. If there is no "collective agency" then the people who have difficulty with their "individual agency" are not shown a path that they can follow by someone who can lead the way. If the is too much of the collective then the individual is stiffled and the people are often bridled.....and we stagnate or worse as Seligman describes. It's the key question in any democracy, "Where is that balance that allows society to move forward or to coexist in harmony while promoting the wellbeing of all?

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Apr 29, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022

Optimism and imagination are pretty cool. I think my ignorance as a young adult really helped me be optimisitic which really drove me to take on education at progressively higher levels which led me to.....

.....this board.

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I hope he's right, but we have some hard ground to cover first.

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Dr. Seligman says we're in labor now about to give birth to this new age of agency.

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As we know, labor can be painful and slow.

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So we need music and massage along the way!

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Exactly. While the mid-terms are screaming for attention, and I intend to respond with support, it may take another election cycle to begin to see the gleam of real hope.

And it occurs to me we are all now Mr. Jones.

But with the help of HCR and others; like Mr. Jones couldn't, we must understand what is happening if for no other reason than our sanity.

But the psychology of it all is beyond my comprehension.

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Yes, because the stagnation phase has hit rock bottom. Nowhere but up after such a fall.

Salud, Cathy. Keep fierce in Texas. 🗽

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I’m ready, is Rupert…

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Too funny.

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Bring him on.

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Many thanks Cathy - you rock! Just downloaded one of Dr. Seligman's books after watching his inspiring presentation :) Always appreciate your thoughtful comments.

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So, we are at the tipping point? I sure as hell hope so!

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Apr 29, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022

Okay, Cathy - had to watch it twice, maybe again before bed! Thank You! Dr. Seligman hooked this recovered Catholic when he said St. Augustus should be de-canonized! Provokes many questions for me, too. As an early childhood expert at one point in my career, I think this analyis and work should begin long before grade school. And what of the interplay of genetically acquired neurotransmitters. But WOW! Never to late to learn, or improve one's wellbeing!!

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Pat, I think you might have come to the wrong place.

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I believe you are right! It was Cathy’s Seligman piece that I liked

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“his routine is old” (re:Trump)

Trump is performing at a dirt race track in Nebraska tomorrow night. Tonight, a local Fox talking head compared the event to a washed up rock band that used to fill stadiums but now played high school gyms. The few remaining fans just want to hear the old favorite songs: I Was the Winner, Biden is a Disaster, Lock Her Up.

The goal of the event is actually to sell baseball caps and other souvenirs of past glory. Supporting Trump’s choice for the Republican Governor primary election is incidental. Amazing to see such cynical disloyalty to trump on FOX.

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That is fascinating.

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And hopeful, but not for tRumperism.

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Wow, is the worm turning, but in which direction…

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